04/4/16

2016 Mazda 6 Review #DriveMazda

This adventure was made possible through my blogging partnership with the awesome people at DriveShop and Mazda, who provided me with a vehicle to test drive. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMazda.

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more…Mazda builds some BEAUTIFUL vehicles. e6407047-1bf7-4765-85b5-abf579209003I spent a whole week with the gorgeous, luxurious and sporty Mazda 6 Grand Touring over spring break a few weeks ago, and I must say, it was difficult letting it go at the week’s end! Between the bright and shiny soul red paint job, to the 19-inch alloy wheels, it was love at first sight. But it didn’t stop there- the inside is a show stopper as well. This option came loaded with gorgeous black leather seats, and a crisp and clean dashboard that was not only beautiful, but easy to navigate. 

When I was originally given the opportunity to test drive the Mazda 6 over spring break, I had planned to take the vehicle for a few stay-cation road trips in and around the surrounding area. There is SO much to do near where I live (Tampa Bay, FL) that just a 1/2 tank of gas will provide you with a change of scenery. As it came closer to test drive time, I started talking to one of my best friends about her upcoming surgery. Liz, from the amazing blog, No Ordinary Liz, truly has #noordinarylife. Somehow, some way, she managed to tear not one but BOTH of her Achilles tendons! Last fall she had her first surgery and when she was almost healed, her doctor began talking about scheduling the second surgery. Liz is completely on her own for the most part, but luckily she has a HUGE network of people (including her amazing sister and brother-in-law) that were here to help her for both surgeries. When Liz began talking about how it would be difficult for her sister to take off a week of work to help her during her first week post-op, I suggested that Liz schedule her second Achilles surgery during my spring break so that she would have the help that she needed. Well, we certainly made the most of the Mazda 6 during that time- and trips to the doctor’s office for post-op visits were a little more special than they would have beenIMG_4586

IMG_4590

The Mazda 6 is surprisingly roomy. Liz (and her cast which we kindly dubbed “the chicken nugget”) was able to sit comfortably for the almost 30 minute drive to the doctor’s office and was floored by the 180 degree incline that the front seats recline to! She was feeling a bit uncomfortable on the ride home, but was able to recline and rest a bit with that comfortable feature. I was also floored by the amount of space the trunk had! Although I didn’t snap a picture, we were able to fit Liz’s folding wheelchair PLUS two full size crutches in the trunk. I did, however, snap a picture of a Target trip that same week. 

IMG_4632

In addition to the comfort and space, I loved the rear back-up camera, the Bose centerpoint premium audio surround system, crystal clear LED lighting system, and the gorgeous view from the one touch open moonroof/sunroof. The Mazda 6 is also excellent on gas mileage, getting 26/38 MPG with the 184 HP 2.5L SKYACTIV-G-powered engine. 

In addition, the 2016 Mazda 6 is equipped with available Smart City Brake Support. There are some amazing safety features, but my favorite would have to be the blind spot monitoring control, the rain sensing windshield wipers and rear view back-up camera with rear-cross traffic alert. It’s a great feeling to know that I those added safety features right at my finger tips. I also really appreciated the head’s up display! It took a day or so to get used to it, but once I did, I was hooked.  

IMG_3498

IMG_4594

Some additional features of the 2016 Mazda 6 Grand Touring
Engine/Mechanical Features

  • SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT
  • 184 hp @ 5700 rpm; 185 lb-ft @ 3250 rpm torque
  • Front-Wheel Drive
  • 4-Wheel Disc Brakes
  • Electric Power Assisted Steering

Exterior Features

  • 19-inch Alloy Wheels
  • P225/45 R19 all-season radial tires
  • Variable Rain-Sensing Wipers
  • Power sliding-glass moonroof with one-touch-open feature and interior sunshade
  • Heated Power Mirrors w/ Turn Lamps
  • LED daytime running lights 

Interior Features

  • 5-Passenger Seating
  • Air conditioner with pollen filter
  • Tilt & Telescopic Steering Column
  • Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel w/ Audio/Cruise/Bluetooth Controls
  • Power Automatic Door Locks
  • Power Windows w/ Driver One-Touch
  • Leather Trimmed Sport Seats
  • 8-Way Power Driver’s Seat
  • Driver Power Lumbar Support
  • Manual Passenger Seat Lifter
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Mid w/ Trip Computer
  • Advanced Keyless Entry System
  • Electronic Parking Brake
  • Push Button Engine Start
  • Dual Zone Auto Climate Control
  • BOSE AM/FM/CD/MP3/SAT 9-SPK
  • HD Radio/Aux Jack/2 USB Input
  • Bluetooth Hands Free Phone/Audio
  • 7″ Color Touch-Screen Display
  • Multi-Function Commander Control
  • Rearview Camera
  • Dual Illuminated Vanity Mirrors
  • Center Armrest w/ Covered Storage
  • Rear Seat Center Armrest
  • Carpeted Floor Mats
  • Mazda Navigation system

Safety and Security Features

  • 60MO/60K MI Powertrain & 36MO/36K MI Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty
  • 24-Hour Roadside Assistance (36MO/36K MI)
  • 5-Passenger 3-Point Safety Belts
  • Latch Child Safety Seat Anchors
  • Anti-Theft Engine Immobilizer
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • SKYACTIV Body
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS with EBD & Brake Assist)
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
  • Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Hill Launch Assist
  • Advanced Dual Front Airbags
  • Front Side-Impact Air Bags
  • Front & Rear Side Air Curtains

If you’re looking for a comfortable vehicle that is PERFECT for families, couples or even if you’re just living the independent life, check out the Mazda 6! It’s super affordable starting out at around $21,500!

Have you driven the Mazda 6? What did you think?

11/15/15

My favorite #Thanksgiving recipes

October came and went in a flash! 

But that’s ok, because I’m ready (oh-so-ready) for all of the fun the holidays bring! 

We have so many fun things planned over the next couple of weeks that each morning I wake up with an extra pep in my step knowing that I’m one day closer to camping trips, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, a cabin in the mountains getaway, and of course, CHRISTMAS! Continue reading

07/12/15

Summer vacation recap!

Last week we went on a whirlwind of a vacation!

11709454_10153513073307474_8404863243895225369_nBrian and I spent a week touring all sorts of fun spots up in the Northeast! And yes- that’s us in Times Square, NYC!

Our vacation started with a trip up to Delaware to spend a few days visiting Brian’s grandmother who lives in Dover. We booked a flight through Priceline.com up to Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C., which is just about a 90 minute drive to Dover. I love using Priceline to book our flights. The prices are always a deal! 

Once we arrived in DC, we grabbed our rental car (booked through Travelocity.com), then headed toward Brian’s Grandmother’s house. Although we booked a “compact” car, we didn’t realize just how small of a vehicle we would end up with! It was a clown car, to say the least! The plus side? It was fantastic on gas mileage. And with all the driving we’d end up doing over the next week, that feature definitely came in handy. And lucky for me, Brian was a trooper- even though at times he felt like he was driving a skateboard. 😉

We spent the next three days hanging out at Gram’s house. Even though Dover is really, really small, there are a lot of neat little spots to explore, fun antique shops to peruse through, Amish markets to stuff our faces in (hello bacon egg and cheese sandwiches!), unique stores and flea markets to shop at, and beautiful natural spots to admire. What I love the most about being up there is taking in the beauty of the songbirds during the day, and the amazing lightning bugs in the evenings. Gram has a little stream behind her house, and at dusk, the glowbugs start to put on a dazzling show. Sigh- I wish I had these in my backyard! We had a nice time relaxing, watching LOTS of Diagnosis murder, and even celebrating my birthday, again! 

1422508_10153507751002474_4495543808652581152_n

11709272_10153511950077474_4634984215610104197_nOn Thursday morning, we woke up bright and early, packed our bags, and bid farewell to Gram as we ventured on the next leg of our vacation!

10411756_10153512064137474_615578681557487682_n

This was Brian’s first trip to the Big Apple, and my 2nd! I was excited to show him everything I remember doing and seeing back in 2005 when I visited there. NYC is about a 3 hour drive from Dover. And while the first part of the trip was quite easy (NJ Turnpike), once we got near New York, it became a bit hectic- especially with our Micro Machine! We rented an apartment from AirBnb.com in Astoria, just outside of NYC. Getting there from Dover had us going up and around the city, crossing over the George Washington Bridge (pictured below), then through the Bronx, Queens and finally Astoria. Getting lost in NYC is nerve-wracking, and Brian claims he aged 10 years during the drive, but in the end, we arrived safely, ready to explore the city! 

11255083_10153513073567474_835818251322800504_n

Once we got to the apartment, we parked, unpacked and took a little bit of a breather. I couldn’t’ wait to sink my teeth into the city, but I knew Brian would need a break after that stressful commute! While he relaxed a bit, I worked on navigating public transit options, and our plan for the afternoon. 

After a much-too-long bus ride (we were a bit rusty in our navigational skills), and an accidental visit to Roosevelt Island, we ended up riding the cable tram over the Hudson towards Manhattan! The views of the Queensboro Bridge and the Hudson were breathtaking! It was definitely a detour that resulted in an unexpected adventure. 

unnamed (2)

unnamed (3)Once we made it to Manhattan, we walked over to Times Square and took in the sights!

11168385_10153513073517474_1826874553913961868_n

And noshed on some PIZZA from Patzeria Perfect Pizza in Times Square! (yes that’s broccoli- don’t hate!). 

11252254_10153513074167474_4409855691902979794_n

Once our bellies were full, we hopped on the subway and headed towards Lower Manhattan to Chelsea Market. I had never been there and it was on my NYC bucket list! Let me tell you, it was everything I’d hoped for and more. 

Farmer’s markets, shops, gelato, cookware, cookbooks- it was a foodie’s DREAM! Get the hazelnut gelato. You won’t regret it. 😉

11113749_10153513218872474_7815774216759725449_n

11693809_10153513218727474_2498041026469487770_n

After Chelsea Market, we ventured back uptown to take in more sights, and get a midnight snack to take back to the apartment with us. We had Carnegie Deli on the brain, but unfortunately, they were closed for renovations! We ended up at a deli right next door (which was delicious!) and Ubered back to the apartment. Using Uber in NYC was our first adventure with the company. We ended up using it quite a bit during the rest of the trip because of its convenience- especially in the evening when we might not feel as confident and comfortable using public transportation to head back to Astoria. And after long days of walking, riding in a comfortable, clean-smelling vehicle was worth every penny!

Our second day of NYC was even more of a whirlwind! We navigated the buses and trains much more successfully the second day and were in the city within 15 minutes. We headed downtown early morning to visit the 911 Memorial and Battery Park before the mid-day crowds. The Memorial was really unbelievably beautiful and moving. You cannot help getting teary-eyed upon seeing it and reading all of the names printed along the perimeter. It is a very overwhelming experience. 

11009111_10153514608222474_3025028362448715321_n

11667291_10153514608312474_4408502574519968424_nSeeing the new World Trade Center building is no less overwhelming. Freedom Tower is unreal. Pictures just cannot truly describe how enormous this building is in person. 

11698503_10153514608447474_1601798246888239997_n

We made our way towards Battery Park and caught a glimpse of Lady Liberty, along with an amazing lunch at Mighty Quinn’s BBQ at Hudson Eats. There really are no words to describe this place. If there is one place you eat in NYC, make sure it’s Mighty Quinns. It was, hands down, the most amazing bbq I have ever, EVER had in my life. Amen. Believe the hype on Yelp. It’s all true. 

mighty-quinns-brisket

mighty-quinns-pulled-pork

We reluctantly headed back uptown (I really could have just moved in at Mighty Quinn’s and stayed there forever), hit some shops, then made our way to Central Park- another bucket list item of mine! The last time I visited NYC I wasn’t able to make it up to the park, so I knew this time I had to! We ended up renting bikes from Bike and Roll, just outside Tavern on the Green. We were able to rent 2 bikes for 2 hours for $60 (which included $6 bike insurance which they allow you to opt out of if you choose). I’ve got to say, riding the 6 mile path all around the park was the highlight of the trip for me. Central Park is just SO beautiful and diverse. I couldn’t get enough of it!

11201900_10153518716962474_726111209007863856_n

11225267_10153515031522474_7479960342017888183_n

11693865_10153515031242474_3585754251413064248_n

After our Central Park biking excursion, we hopped on a train and headed to the Bronx! Our boys were in town and we had tickets to see them take on the Yankees at none other than Yankee Stadium- another first for me!

10985100_10153515233957474_5344716163792616097_n

11009092_10153515296992474_6813761187918840008_nIt was so cool watching the Tampa Bay Rays play in NYC. Surprisingly we were sitting near other Rays fans, so we were able to enjoy our hot dogs and beers with only a little bit of heckling. 😉 Brian’s highlight was catching a practice ball! 

10985421_10153515676102474_732859340723440564_n

We caught an Uber ride from the Bronx back to our apartment, exhausted from a tiring day in the city! 

The next morning we said our goodbyes to the Big Apple, and headed back down to D.C. to celebrate the 4th of July at our nation’s capital! We purchased round trip tickets from Tampa to D.C., so it worked out perfectly that we would spend the 4th there! It took us about 3 hours to drive from NYC to D.C., giving us time to return our rental car, check into our hotel (booked on Booking.com), grab dinner, and a spot at the National Mall for fireworks that evening! 

11694803_10153518717137474_45098305299203300_nIt was an amazing end to a wonderful summer vacation together! 

11403098_10153518716932474_397660445813604800_n

I’m always thanking my lucky stars for Brian, but after this trip I’m even more grateful for his spontaneity, and love of adventure. I couldn’t ask for a better partner and best friend, and cannot wait to experience more fun moments with him! 

Have you traveled this summer? -Steph 

06/24/15

4 years

4 years ago Brian and I went on our first date.

I didn’t know it then, but he would turn out to be my best friend, the person to kiss me goodnight, hold my hand when I’m worried and hold me tight when I’m scared. 

I didn’t know it then, but he would turn out to be my shoulder to cry on, my ear to confide to, and my voice of reassurance.  Continue reading